Seduction and romance appear throughout The Three Musketeers, as nearly all of the major characters are involved or were involved in a romantic relationship that affects the plot. Most notably, the Duke of Buckingham and Queen Anne are romantically interested in one another, and their interest leads to a war between England and France. Likewise, d’Artagnan’s love for Madame Bonacieux, one of the queen’s servants, leads him on several quests that take him all over France and even into England. Notably, although the novel’s characters value romantic love—and the novel’s intended audience would’ve as well—on the whole, it does not lead to positive outcomes. In addition to the war that begins due to Queen Anne and the Duke of Buckingham’s romantic interest, d’Artagnan’s romance ends in his lover’s death after Milady poisons her. Similarly, Athos’s marriage to Milady ends tragically because Athos discovers she is branded with a fleur-de-lis and tries to kill her.
Seduction, meanwhile, proves temporarily useful, but also ends in disaster. For instance, D’Artagnan successfully seduces Milady only to be attacked by her moments later after he sees the fleur-de-lis brand. Milady herself is the primary seductress in the book and using her abilities, she convinces John Felton to assassinate the Duke of Buckingham. In addition, she manages to secure successful marriages with two noblemen, although neither marriage ends happily. Although seduction provides Milady a chance to advance her social and political goals, all of her successes are only temporary, and she is eventually killed for her transgressions.
Ultimately, the novel’s view of romantic and sexual relationships is quite pessimistic. The only main character who ends the novel married is Porthos and he only marries Madame Coquenard because of her money, not for romance. Meanwhile, the relationships that come about as a result of seduction end almost as soon as they begin. As such, the novel suggests that love is an impossibility for an active musketeer, while lust is a dangerous distraction.
Seduction and Romance ThemeTracker
Seduction and Romance Quotes in The Three Musketeers
Unfortunately, Porthos knew no more about Athos’s life than what hearsay told him. It was said that he had suffered great afflictions in his love affairs and that a monstrous betrayal had poisoned his life forever. What that betrayal had been, no one knew.
He was thinking about Madame Bonacieux. For an apprentice musketeer, she was almost an amorous ideal: besides being young, pretty, and mysterious, she knew nearly all the secrets of the court, which gave her face a charming look of gravity, and she was suspected of not being insensitive to masculine attentions, which is an irresistible attraction for young men with little experience in love. Furthermore, d’Artagnan had rescued her from the demons who wanted to search her and mistreat her, and this had given her one of those feelings of gratitude that can easily develop into something more tender.
Yes, but you know why I’m seeing you, Duke: I’m seeing you out of pity; I’m seeing you because you’ve stubbornly insisted on remaining in a city where you’re risking your life and making me risk my honor; I’m seeing you to tell you that everything separates us: the depths of the sea, the enmity of kingdoms, the sanctity of vows. It’s sacrilegious to struggle against all those things. And finally, I’m seeing you to tell you that we must never see each other again.
But now he suddenly realized the advantages he could gain from the love that Kitty had candidly confessed to him: he would be able to intercept letters addressed to Count de Wardes, get useful information from Kitty, and have access at any time to her bedroom, which adjoined Milady’s. The treacherous young man was already planning to sacrifice Kitty in order to make Milady give in to him, willingly or unwillingly.
The cardinal, as is well known, had been in love with the queen. We cannot say whether his love had a simple political goal or whether it was one of the deep passions that Anne of Austria aroused in those around her, but in any case we know that the duke of Buckingham had won out over him before the beginning of this story and that in later circumstances […] the duke had outwitted him.
“Look at this woman,” said de Winter. “She’s young and beautiful, and she has every kind of charm imaginable; yet she’s a monster who, at the age of twenty-five, has already committed as many crimes as you’ll find in the records of our law courts for a year. Her body speaks in her favor, her beauty lures her victims, and I must say in all fairness that her body pays what she’s promised. She’ll try to seduce you, she may even try to kill you.”